Opposite-sex dorm mates: a logical idea

Macalester College is considering allowing co-ed dorm rooms. Students frequently live in mixed-gender situations off campus, and allowing that option on campus makes sense.

Gay and lesbian students raised the idea after Wesleyan University in Connecticut decided to allow opposite-sex roommates. Evidently, homosexuals frequently encounter uncomfortable living situations with same-sex roommates and would prefer to have more options.

Macalester College officials are still developing how the program would work. It probably will not be open to first-year students. There would be an application process for obtaining an opposite-sex room, which would encourage careful consideration and avoid poor decision-making. Some propose that eligible dorms should be “suite style” dorms where students have separate sleeping spaces. This would make the idea less radical.

Admittedly, romantically involved students who choose to live together could have problems if the relationship deteriorates. However, it is not uncommon for same-sex roommates to encounter problems with one another as well. When roommates decide they need to change rooms or leave school, universities and colleges are usually relatively accommodating – more so than most off-campus landlords.

Macalester College might be inviting a new type of problem. Therefore, it should consider discouraging couples from sharing housing.

The Minnesota Family Council – and others – are against the co-habitation idea. The council said it could lead to sexually transmitted infections and “sexual confusion.” This assumption is a stretch. Short-term and one-night-stand sexual relationships are most likely to spread diseases, not cohabitative sex. And although non-dating guy and girl roommates might breed emotional attachment, leading to sexual attraction, plenty of off-campus students have no such problem renting with members of the opposite sex.

What Macalester College is considering is not an overly forward-thinking idea but more an overdue statement. Adults deserve to be treated as adults, including being allowed to freely choose their living companions.